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ESTA Frequently Asked Questions


Below you will find answers to many common questions regarding ESTA and traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

Legal Notice: ESTA.us is a privately owned service provider specializing in the Visa Waiver Program including the recently created ESTA (U.S. Travel Authorization). Our mission is to help applicants understand the different aspects of the Visa Waiver Program and learn how to apply for a Travel Authorization (ESTA).

What is ESTA?
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It is an automated system that determines whether a citizen from a Visa Waiver Country is allowed to travel to the United States and apply for admission to enter. ESTA is only related to traveling, it is not a visa requirement. The entire ESTA application process takes place online. There are no physical forms to print and you do not have to go in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate. For those who have ever visited Australia as a tourist, the Australian ETA application process is a similar concept.

I have submitted an order for the ESTA Application Guide but I haven't got it yet. How can I get it?
The ESTA Application Guide is available for instant download upon successful payment. There is a "Download" button in the confirmation page that displayed on your screen after you submitted the order. A confirmation email with the download link was also sent to your email address. If you did not get the email, please check your "Junk Mail" or "SPAM" folder. If you are still not able to find the confirmation email, please submit the contact form below for assistance.

I've already submitted my application for a Travel Authorization, but I made a mistake. How can I fix it?
We do not have access to ESTA applications already submitted to the U.S. government. We cannot help update incorrect passport numbers, misspelled names, wrong birth dates, retrieve any missed ESTA Application Numbers, or confirm any applications already submitted. Please refer to chapter 8 of the ESTA Application Guide for instructions on how to update your ESTA application.

I have a passport from a Visa Waiver country. Do I need to apply for ESTA?
It depends. You are required to apply for ESTA if you intend to enter the United States by air or sea, under the Visa Waiver Program. However, ESTA is not required if you are entering by land. If you plan on staying in the United States for more than 90 days or have been previously denied entry into the country, you must apply for U.S. visa. There are several other reasons why you might not be eligible to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. For more information we recommend that you download our application guide.

Do I have to purchase your application guide in order to apply for a U.S. Travel Authorization?
No. You are not required to purchase our application guide in order to apply for ESTA. Our ESTA Application Guide contains valuable information regarding the Visa Waiver Programs and detailed ESTA Application instructions.

Do I need to have any specific plans before I apply for a Travel Authorization?
No. You can apply for ESTA anytime as long as your passport is machine readable and you hold citizenship from a Visa Waiver country. Passport holders from the most countries that recently become members of the Visa Waiver Program must have an ePassport in order to apply for ESTA.

What happens if I do not get an approval for the Travel Authorization?
According to recent statistics published by the Department of Homeland Security, over 99% of all ESTA applicants are approved within 5 seconds. However, if you application is denied, will be required to apply for a United States visitor visa, such as a B-2 Tourist Visa. Contact us for additional information on how to apply for U.S. visas.

What happens if I need to update my Travel Authorization after I am approved?
You will be able to change any itinerary on a current Travel Authorization. ESTA is designed so that you can update a valid Travel Authorization. It is not necessary to have a flight booking or hotel reservation to initially apply for a Travel Authorization. Download the ESTA Travel Authorization Application Guide for information on how to update your ESTA file.

Why is ESTA required?
Section 217(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to enhance the current Visa Waiver Program security features. ESTA is one of several measures taken to fulfill the security requirement.

Is a ESTA Travel Authorization the same as a Visa?
No. A Travel Authorization is only necessary for a visitor traveling on the Visa Waiver Program. It is only a travel requirement. A visa must be obtained in advance by individuals not eligible to enter on the Visa Waiver Program. If you already hold a valid U.S. visitor visa, you should not apply for ESTA.

How early in advance is it recommended to obtain an ESTA?
You should at least allow yourself 72 hours (3 days). However, if you are planning to visit the U.S. it is recommend to apply as early as possible. If your Travel Authorization is denied you will have to apply for a visitor visa at a US embassy or consulate. Sometimes, appointment slots are difficult to attain, and may take weeks.

Can I re-apply for a Travel Authorization if I was not approved the first time?
Yes, but you must wait at least 10 days and your circumstances must have changed. Note that applying for a Travel Authorization with false information will make you permanently barred from ever visiting the United States. A US embassy or consulate cannot help you to get an approved Travel Authorization.

I have a valid B-1/B-2 visitor visa. Do I need a Travel Authorization?
No. As long as your visa is valid you do not need a Travel Authorization.

Do I still have to complete Form I-94W, the green form?
Yes. Until ESTA is fully implemented travelers to the U.S. must still complete Form I-94W. A Travel Authorization (ESTA) is applied for in advance while Form I-94W is completed on the airplane or at the U.S. port of entry. Learn how to document your departure by downloading the ESTA - Travel Authorization Application Guide if you loose your green I-94W departure slip.

I was previously denied a visa to the US. Can I apply for a Travel Authorization and enter on the Visa Waiver Program?
No. If you have ever been denied a visa you cannot travel under the Visa Waiver Program.

I was denied admission to the US previously. Can I apply for a Travel Authorization and enter the US on the Visa Waiver Program?
No. If you have previously been denied admission you must apply for a visa before attempting to visit the US. You must apply for a B-1 Visitor Visa or B-2 Tourist Visa. The ESTA - Travel Authorization Application Guide also includes information about how to apply for a U.S. visitor visa (B-1 and B-2 Visa).

I already have a valid visitor visa. Do I also need to apply for a Travel Authorization?
No. As long as your visa is valid, you do not need to apply for ESTA.

I am a citizen from a country that it's not part of the Visa Waiver Program. Do I need to apply for ESTA?
No. ESTA Travel Authorization is only for individuals who enter the United States with a passport from a Visa Waiver Country. If you are not from a Visa Waiver Country, you must apply for a U.S. Visitor Visa first. Contact us for more information on how to apply for a U.S. visa.



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